How green is your gym?

It’s interesting how being in a different context can get you thinking.

I love to keep fit – swimming, running, rollerblading, bicycle, weights, I’m into it all – but I’ve never been a big rap for gyms. They always felt a little self-obsessed, full of mirrors and people absorbed in looking cool/sexy/tough. And in the Australian context it never really made a lot of sense to go to the gym when you could just ride a bicycle to work or go for a run in the sun.

But here in Scotland it’s bloody cold and exercising outside for longer periods of time isn’t the most comfortable of options, so we took the opportunity to get cheap gym memberships using Cathy’s student discount.

And it was here, while on one of those strange cross-trainer machines that works your arms and legs at the same time while watching one of about 14 channels on your own personalised screen, that I started thinking about the environment and resources.

Along with my aversion to the image aspect of gyms, I also avoided them because I was of the mind that they were a waste of resources. Why keep forking out cash for a membership when you can buy your own gym equipment and keep fit at home? It struck me as being a much better use of resources, or in Christian parlance, a much better approach to stewardship, particularly because it meant spending less money in the long run.

But now I’m not so sure.

It struck me that if everyone who wanted to keep fit was to buy their own equipment for home use that it would take a huge amount of resources to produce it all.

At the moment I’m stumbling my way through a great book by Alastair McIntosh called Soil and Soul (the cover quotes a review that referred to it as “No Logo in a fair isle jumper”.)

Soil and Soul

In the introductory chapters, the author tells quite a few stories about his childhood on the northern Scottish islands that illustrate the communal lifestyle of village life where everybody shared everything they had, meaning there was less resources required.

It struck me that in terms of stewardship and the environment that maybe I was wrong, maybe it’s better to have one central place like a gym where everyone uses the equipment – essentially communal sharing like village life of old – meaning less equipment gets produced, minimising the use of resources.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a greener option to go to the gym?

My thoughts moved on to other aspects of my approach to stewardship.

I shave my head regularly, so in keeping with my philosophy of minimising costs I purchased a set of clippers – why keep forking out cash when you can buy a set of clippers and cut your own hair.

But again, if everybody were to do this, that’s a hell of a lot of clippers that need to be produced using quite a lot of finite resources. If we all chose the alternative – going to the hairdresser – we’d minimise resource use, contribute to the sustaining of quite a few jobs, and probably along the way create a bit more of a sense of community by getting to know the person who’s cutting our hair at regular intervals.

So maybe when my clippers break, I might not get another set and start heading to the local barber shop. I don’t know, it’s just a few thoughts that are taking shape, but I’d be interested to hear what people think. Are there any other examples that fit what I’ve described above?

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4 responses to “How green is your gym?

  1. Of course it’s a greener option to go to the gym!! Plus lots of community-building can occur – I’m not into gyms, but most of my mother’s closest friends are the women she’s been going to the gym and aerobics with for the last 20+ years. They see each other almost every day – you can’t say that of most mates.

    You’d also be struggling to afford the kind of gear gyms have, and you’d have to have a huge house to fit it all.

    There’s heaps of other examples…how ’bout cars and bikes? Or hiking equipment? (Mind you, we’re about to spend up big on all our own gear…just call me Little Ms Hypocrisy)

  2. what you need to do is hook the exercise bikes and treadmills up to generators, like a gerbil on a wheel. then you could power the gym’s lighting and air conditioning. brilliant, no? 😉

  3. A home gym can be a rad way to build some community. I have built up a reasonably simple setup from mostly second hand equiptment that hasnt cost me a heap . I invite blokes from work and church and wherever with rad results. Some nights i have about six guys over 4 and a couple of them over for tea.

    good times!

  4. You could start a gym co-op.

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